Guided Moose And Black Bear Hunts

Author Topic: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success  (Read 2917 times)

Offline Rydonn

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WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« on: October 16, 2017, 09:44:12 PM »

First off, thanks to all of the people that helped me out in doing research for attempting a DIY Solo public land antelope hunt in Wyoming, much appreciated. While it is still fresh in my mind, I would like to go through my experience and what worked well, what didn't, what I would do different, etc., so that others who want to take a shot at doing something similar know what to expect. Excuse me in advance for the wordy post.

The first thing that I should mention is that I love to hunt but haven't been very successful at it due to my work schedule, family commitments, and my lack of off-season scouting and researching because of this - which I'm trying to make the time for going forward. This year I wanted to put more of an emphasis on it to feed my family - me, my wife, and our now 15 month old son. I also want to get it figured out so that we can go out and do this together when he gets older and be successful. Going off of what others have told me, and what I have heard, there are antelope everywhere in Wyoming. So, I did a little research and put in for a tag in the middle to NE corner on a leftover draw and didn't get drawn. I then took a chance and bought a tag in a unit with very little public land and decided to figure it out and get out and take a stab. I then started studying maps, posts on other forums, talking to biologists and wardens to learn that filling a tag in this unit would be a tall order - not too promising to say the least. So, I kept studying the BLM and state spots and made an order of precedence to check them out. Before I could do adequate research and dial everything in it is now time to leave.

Last Wednesday Evening/Thursday: Leave work a little early, finish packing, helping my wife with some things around the house and get on the road to make the drive from Seattle to NE Wyoming - roughly 1,100 miles and 16 hours. Made it to Bearmouth, MT, pull into a rest stop and finish the drive by 2:00PM Thursday. Started checking out spots on my list.

Friday: First full day in Wyoming. Drove some county roads looking into potential areas, saw lots of mule deer, a few antelope on private land, none on public. Fast forward a few hours and spotted some antelope on the boundary of public/private, all does and no bucks. Mark the area I spotted them on the GPS (my cell phone with OnX map app) and where I think they are, park and walk around to make the couple of mile stalk. Run into a few other groups, all does, end up running into a group of about 12+ antelope and about 12+ mule deer grazing in a grassy area. I Army crawled in and spooked them after pulling out for a second so they wouldn't see me, by the time I crawled back in I couldn't even see them on the horizon, which kind of made me think I was hallucinating after driving for so long.... Wishing I would have taken the shot I had earlier at some does at about 120 yards at this point. Also jumped four nice muley bucks that were hiding out in tiny little washouts, all of which I would be extremely happy to see while hunting in Washington.

Moved out of this area as I blew it, decided to hit every accessible square mile of state land that I could to see what I could turn up. While driving through the third piece I saw a buck, took a shot and missed, and attempted to cut him off. While going to the other side and walking in, a group of about seven with a nice buck came in front of me. Took a broadside shot at below 300 yards, and made another quick follow up shot and he went down. Watched him for about twenty seconds or so and he was laying down, but he attempted to get up and then I made another shot to finally put him down for good. So, after a day and a half of hunting I went through some extreme highs and lows. Dressed and quartered the animal and put it in the coolers I had in my truck and started on my way back. Successful hunt with meat in the freezer! Heard from a friend that I actually shot a decent buck, which was a bonus!

The good:
 - OnX maps is a must. Got it on my phone about a week before, cached my maps for use offline, can't go hunting out of state without this in my opinion. Everyone says this and I can't stress it enough. Had a little difficulty with it where I had to drive back to town and delete and re-upload my maps due to a glitch in there software. Definitely get more familiar with however you plan to use it better than I did.
 - Pulled a tip from Randy Newberg and had a 65 RTIC cooler full of frozen milk jugs to cool the animal. One thing I plan for now for every hunt is to plan to have the animal ahead of time instead of reacting to it after the fact, big help here. This worked great to load it up and drive straight home. Would be disastrous to harvest an animal and lose some of it due to improper field care (which I unfortunately have learned the hard way).
 - Talk to everyone you can to get as much information as you can. Wildlife biologists and wardens were helpful - even just to let me know that I was a bonehead and it was a hard unit to hunt on public land.
 - Staying positive is a must, and I was so exhausted early on that I wasn't doing a good job of this. Had to psyche myself into staying motivated. I read another post on this or a different forum that said if you don't see them on one unit, don't waste your time and go check out a different spot. Even though I had a few good encounters and a very quick hunt overall, I was getting discouraged pretty quickly.
 - Carry a rangefinder when out in field. I also had a backpack with pack frame and any gear needed when I went out and made stalks on the larger sections of land in case I needed to pack an animal out. Don't waste another trip out then back in to grab the pack!
 - I packed all my hunting clothes, hunting equipment, camp clothes, and dry food in Costco plastic totes. When I was ready to sleep I put them on top of my coolers and rolled out a mat and slept in the back of my truck in an area enough to get a mat in. Worked pretty well and I was pretty mobile and my Ranger pickup was my home base.

The bad:
 - I underestimated how much the drive would take out of me. 16 hours on the road is a killer, and all I wanted to do was NOTHING. It was playing with my emotions, and hard to stay positive being that tired and sleep deprived. I wanted to quit and go home. If I ever did this again I would fly and rent a truck/car, and send the meat to a processor and have them send it over. I didn't give myself enough time either once I got there, and I'm lucky that I got lucky.
 - I have little to no experience hunting this type of terrain. Kind of tried to figure it out as I go - playing the wind, using the land contours to my advantage, trying to make a stalk. I haven't hunted on the East side of the mountains much going after muleys or what have you, so I wish I would have had more experience here.
 - I couldn't make it work to bring a friend with me. Bad call on my part. If you're planning something like this, bring a friend. Split the gas, other responsibilities, and have someone there to motivate you when you're not motivated and have someone there to bounce ideas off of.

The ugly:
 - Frankly, my shooting. The closest range that I go to only goes out to 200 yards. While I had chances on a doe or two closer, you will probably be pushed on your shooting abilities. Be comfortable with taking 300 yard or so shots.
 - Again, my shooting. In addition to being 300 yards or so, I was fighting against a very strong cross wind. Shoot comfortably at these distances with the elements, being winded, sitting on your butt and using your legs as rests, however you plan to do it. I was able to sit on my butt and use my legs as a rest - when I was shooting at the range I was on a bench. I wish I would have brought some extra ammo and some targets to check this out when I got there. The wind kicks up at around 11:00AM or so I noticed. Again, this was something I underestimated but it's extremely important. All of the work in planning, driving over there, finding a spot, finding an animal is completely worthless if you can't make a good shot. I was able to get it done but it wasn't pretty.

I'm glad I finally took the chance and penciled out the time to do this and was able to get it done. I'm looking forward to doing this again in different states for different animals. Looking to plan an out of state elk hunt for next season, maybe sneak in a deer hunt too. The amount of good looking game here I saw - just off of the road during hunting season - blew my mind. It's got me scratching my head what's going on with Washington - too many hunters?

That's all I got for now. Thanks again to all those who helped, especially all the words of encouragement from Duckhunter14.

 - Rydonn

Offline Eric M

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2017, 09:52:08 PM »
Nice buck-congratulations

Offline Dan-o

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2017, 10:01:43 PM »
Well done!!!

Long drives wear me out too.
My hunting partner is fine with them.
Member:   Yakstrakgutp (or whatever we are)
I love the BFRO!!!
I wonder how many people will touch their nose to their screen trying to read this...

Offline Brushbuster

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 10:08:17 PM »
Good Job!! For your first out of state hunt. With all the buck deer you were seeing it may be a good idea to see how difficult it is to draw a deer tag for that area. We've also applied & drew antelope doe tags in addition to the buck & been able to kill 3 antelope each. Congrats!!  :tup:

Offline archer0135

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2017, 05:44:34 AM »
Congrats!!!! My sons and I are planning an Antelope trip too. I have also considered getting left over tags but wasn't sure how it would be for them ( they are 12 & 14) How days did you plan for there?

Offline CaNINE

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 07:19:05 AM »
I think it's great that you did the research, invested in the trip and stayed persistent until your preparation and opportunity collided, that's not luck by the way. Most people aren't motivated enough to do what you did. And now you have a new game rich hunt spot for your efforts to hunt years to come. And you've only scratched the tip of what Wyoming has to offer. Congratulations.
The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

Proverbs 12:27

Offline Duckhunter14

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 08:37:51 AM »
I was stoked when the text came through with the pic of your buck! I told you that you'd get it done! Nice work bud. That's a dandy for your first. You better of convinced your better half that a shoulder mount was the only way to go!?  :tup:

"I don't hunt to live, I live to hunt."

"Elk don't know how many feet a horse has!"

My two favorite words? Take em!

Offline Bob33

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 08:40:30 AM »
I detect we have a new antelope addict in our midst. :tup:

Well done, and thanks for sharing!
Nature. It's cheaper than therapy.

Offline Stein

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2017, 08:42:43 AM »
Nice looking buck for sure. 

Offline jstone

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2017, 09:01:18 AM »
Very nice.. congratulations. I did the same thing in Montana this year. I used the 7 day free trial on the onx maps. It's a must. Shot my first goat too. I'm an addict now.


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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2017, 09:32:33 AM »
Well done, and great honest write up.  OnX maps are definitely a game changer for the nonresident hunter, though some of us old farts did it with maps and compasses back in the days before handheld portable electronics :) .   

As for why so much more game .. having worked as a game bio for both states, I have a lot of opinions. 

First of course is <600k people in 97,000 square miles (6 per square mile) vs 7.2 million in 66,000 square miles (107 per square mile).  Wyoming can sell every public land buck and bull opportunity most years, but when game herds are high (they are relatively low currently), even virtually giving away doe/fawn licenses, not only do they lack the resident hunters but even large populations of nonresidents are fairly far away.  And, hunting is relatively good in the adjoining states, some of the rarest nonresident hunters I'd see were from Idaho and Montana - and invariably, those were doe antelope hunters enticed by low cost licenses and the opportunity to have a fistful of tags.  Most nonresident hunters make that trip with bucks and bulls in mind, and only some of them are interested in does and cows too. 

Second, most of the state is in ranches, not farms; and the crops that are farmed are very resilient to game damage (mostly hay, wheat and sugar beets), especially when the farm is part of a ranch.  Since the 1990s nearly every ranch makes money selling access in one form or another, and tolerance gets very high when they are making as much or more off hunting compared to livestock.  Washington, on the other hand, grows many crops that are severely impacted by game: you will hardly see a game animal where many fruits and vegetables are grown.  The only real timber industry in Wyoming is in the east, primarily ponderosa pine, which has very low palatability compared to Washington's Douglas fir.  It's no coincidence that many of Washington's highest game densities are where ponderosa is the primary timber, and ranching and wheat farming are the major land uses.

Third, urbanites are mostly nonhunters and while they like to see a few elk or deer, they are far less tolerant of high numbers of deer and elk - which equate to nuisances in gardens and landscaping, motor vehicle collisions, cougar conflicts, and those icky hunters.  Social carrying capacity is a bigger factor in the size of Washington game herds than it is in Wyoming.
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Offline Whitenuckles

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2017, 12:46:03 PM »
 :tup: nicely done

Offline finnman

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2017, 10:37:04 PM »
Well done Rydonn!

I agree, the drive is tough, thatís why we do it in 2 stages, Puyallup to Bozeman, then Bozeman to Broadus. We have time that second day to set up the wall tent and scout. We stay 5 full days, 9 days total. Itís a vacation. That drive is taxing, so we allow time to enjoy it and we are in good shape and ready to hunt after the wall tent is up!
We use large coolers if itís warm, or just hang meat for a few days to dry and chill then transfer to coolers.
We have 6 buddies and my wife, we are taking 3 rigs, 2 wall tents, two cargo trailers, water jugs, each person cooks dinner one night for all.
Hunting is great....but so is having a good time and staying safe while doing it.
We leave soon! Canít wait!

Offline Triplej

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2017, 10:29:15 AM »
Thanks for sharing great job

Offline go4steelhd

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Re: WY Solo DIY Public Land Antelope Success
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 02:07:44 PM »
Super cool :tup:


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